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  • Rhonda Rosenheck

So where does one actually find a .07 acre lot for a tiny house?

I have no regrets about buying a tiny house on wheels (THOW) shell before knowing where to park it. While it would have been more sensible to find the spot first and then buy or build the THOW to plant there, who knows if I’d have ever seriously pursued it.


Parking my writing studio near home would have involved felling trees in an essential wildlife thoroughfare. Campgrounds? Mobile home parks? Seasonal, too expensive, or not the right vibe. I contacted farm owners, and one showed interest. Not ideal, but parking there would offer me quality llama time. Nonetheless, I wanted my own inspirational haven.


Downloading lists of vacant lots for sale by the two local Community Land Banks (CLBs) near me: for the City of Troy and the County of Albany yielded gold! According to sheltreforce.org, there are roughly 225 CLBs in 46 states. What are they?


[Community] Land banks are … organizations created to acquire, hold, manage, and sometimes redevelop property in order to return these properties to productive use to meet community goals, such as increasing affordable housing or stabilizing property values. (https://localhousingsolutions.org/housing-policy-library/land-banks/)


Most lots on the lists were slivers in poor neighborhoods, where gardens, lawns, even driveways would serve better than my project. Viewing 30+ lots, I found three where my project might add value: a corner lot collecting trash; a gravel triangle holding junkyard-looking vehicles, uphill from a tree-lined bike path and across from houses whose wooded view was marred; and an L-shaped lot with a wide rear rectangle amidst the backyards of five duplexes on three sides (perfect for the writing studio), with a narrow strip between from the sidewalk to the back (perfect for the little free libraries and public reading garden I was planning).


I submitted my application with the Albany County Land Bank to purchase 110 Heartt Avenue in Cohoes, NY.


For $600 (and a handful of beans?), I acquired .07 acre of an island with the rush of the Mohawk River and, from a public woods ten steps away, a view of said river with eagles and herons, a hydropower dam, and a state park. Magic, born of persisting through administrative hurdles and additional expenses, albeit with great coaching and cheerleading.



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